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5 Strategies to be a great son-in-law

MOTHER IN LAW
SHUTTERSTOCK
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Getting along with your wife’s parents can be tricky, but these steps will help to win them over.

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It’s an old adage with a lot of truth behind it: “When you marry someone, you also marry their family.” Even if you move far away and see them infrequently, marriage makes these people your family, too—for better or worse. Perhaps you don’t know your in-laws very well yet, or have much in common with them, but you love your wife and you want to get along with the people she cares about most. Putting time and effort into building your friendship with your in-laws is well worth it!

These 5 strategies will help you to build a warm, comfortable relationship with your wife’s parents.

1
Let them see you be the best husband and father you can be

For most parents, what they want most in a son-in-law is someone who makes their daughter happy and is a loving husband to her, and a caring father to their grandchildren. Just showing them how happy you make their daughter is the most important way to win their hearts!

2
Include them in family activities

Depending on how far away they live, this might be tricky, but any effort to include them will be appreciated. If your in-laws are local and your child has a sports game or dance recital coming up, it only takes a minute to invite the grandparents, and goes a long way to make them feel welcomed and included. If they live farther away, you might make plans to visit them over the holidays, or perhaps go on vacation together over the summer. They might appreciate getting an invitation to events like your child’s birthday party, even if they won’t be able to travel for it, because it helps them feel connected to your family.

3
Pay attention to their preferences

Nothing makes a person feel cared for quite like realizing that you remembered their likes and dislikes and planned accordingly. Perhaps you could buy their favorite snack or drink before their visit, send them a funny meme from their favorite TV show, or ask what they’re reading for book club or growing in their garden. Whatever their interests are, your paying attention and asking about those things will mean so much to them.

4
Comment when you notice something positive

Honestly, it can be easy to take your in-laws’ good qualities for granted, but making a point to comment on the things you have in common and anything you appreciate about them will put you firmly in their good graces. You might ask your handy father-in-law for advice on a home project, praise your mother-in-law’s gorgeous garden, and tell them both how grateful you are for them babysitting. If there’s a hobby you have in common with them, that’s an easy conversation topic to fall back on, and discussing that interest can help to cement your bond.

5
Don't dwell on the negative

There will probably be certain things your in-laws do that get on your nerves. At times you may need to set boundaries with them, which is a healthy and reasonable thing to do. As much as possible, however, try to let slide the little things that don’t matter, like one of them repeating the same story yet again. Similarly, if there’s a specific topic that causes conflict, try to avoid it if possible. Of course, stand up for your family if needed, but with prudence. Focusing on the things you do appreciate about your in-laws, and what you have in common, will make both you and them happier, and build a stronger friendship between you.

If you’ve got a good relationship, your in-laws can be a blessing in your life! Check out these 7 reasons to cherish your mother-in-law, a reminder of all the ways the in-law relationship can be a great one.

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